FIFA 20 Formations: The 7 Best systems in the game – which is best for you?

With 33 set-ups and hundreds of tactical combinations on offer, which one will you choose?


Do not let the array of system variations scare you off in FIFA 20.

There are more than a handful of easy-to-learn tactics that will help you get the most out of your team in EA’s new game.

Below, we run through the seven best formations that FIFA 20 has to offer, breaking down each one’s strengths and weaknesses in order to help you beat your opponent.

3-1-4-2 – A possession-based game

Eintracht Frankfurt’s opt for a 3-1-4-2

3-1-4-2 is a variant of 3-5-2, where the wingers are more withdrawn to cover the flanks, with two central midfielders bossing the middle of the park.

Martin O’Neill took Celtic to the 2003 UEFA Cup Final employing this formation long before Antonio Conte popularised playing three at the back at Chelsea. 

Things to consider: 

With FIFA 20’s increased emphasis on manual tackles, this formation is now even more effective – especially with the holding defensive midfielder mopping up any loose balls in the gap between defence and midfield. 

READ MORE: FIFA 20 Career Mode – Contract Expiry signings 2020

A tough-tackling enforcer like Fernandinho or Kante is essential, otherwise you risk being overrun in the middle of the park. On the attacking end, the formation’s layout means you should effectively have an extra man on your opponent in the final third.

Things to avoid: 

Wide players with a ‘High’ Attacking Work Rate may seem like a good idea, but FIFA’s version of three-at-the-back is less defensive-minded and will leave you prone to a counter attack. Avoid these. 

When using proper wing-backs, you’ll want to use a formation with five defenders, so try 5-2-1=-2 for similar results.

The game plan: 

This formation lives and dies on your defensive midfielder controlling the tempo and not venturing too far from their position. To make sure they keep their discipline, set their Attacking Support to ‘Stay Back While Attacking’ and Defensive Position to ‘Cover Centre’.

For extra protection in defence, set one (or both) wingers to ‘Come Back in Defence’ under Defensive Support. 

4-3-2-1: All or nothing

Tottenham with an aggressive 4-3-2-1

Wide forwards in previous editions of FIFA were an odd beast. Not quite wingers, and not quite strikers, they operated in a grey-space between the positions.

READ MORE: FIFA 20 Ultimate Team: The Best 50k Team

It’s exciting to report that the ‘2’ in 4–3–2–1 is actually a viable option for wide forwards, enabling you to terrorise defences with the likes of Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah.

Things to consider: 

If your opponent has pacey wide players themselves, it is worth checking that your full-backs have high acceleration, agility and reaction attributes. Absent of these traits, they could be harrassed for 90 minutes, with your forwards unlikely to trudge back and offer a helping hand.

Things to avoid: 

Don’t play conservative – it’s a video game after all. This formation is designed for you to win 4–3, not 1–0, so it’s not the end of the world if you concede.

Rest easy in the knowledge that you’re likely to find space as the game develops, thanks to your central midfielder having a multitude of options available at any given time.

The game plan:

If you are looking to mimic Jurgen Klopp’s ‘counter press’ style of tactics, select ‘Pressure on Heavy Touch’ in Defensive Style category. Increase the ‘Depth’ option to at least 8/10 and you’ll be playing like Liverpool in no time.

4-1-2-1-2: Straight through the middle

Olympiacos often opt with a 4-1-2-1-2 Narrow

A relatively uncommon set up in modern football, the 4-1-2-1-2 formation, is a slight variation of the traditional 4-4-2 formation, which sacrifices wide players for an extra striker and midfielder.

READ MORE: FIFA 20 Career Mode – Best Young CMs to sign

This formation will favour players who fancy themselves as pass-masters, as you’ll be creating a narrow game in which you’ll need intricate passes or a route-one approach to reach your strikers.

Things to consider:

The strengths of this formation lie in splitting your opposition line up down the middle, overloading the midfield and using the extra players to create overlaps as you advance up the pitch.

With the inclusion of two strikers you can include one fast man to get in behind defences, and one tall/strong forward to win the ball in the air in case you have to hoof possession up the pitch as a last resort.

Things to avoid:

This formation lives and dies on your central midfielders covering the wider areas, as these areas are vulnerable with no wingers to provide defensive support.

You should set the defensive midfielder’s Attacking Support to ‘Stay Back While Attacking’ to ensure that they cover your centre-halves, and two of your centre mids on ‘cover wing’.

The game plan:

The game plan here is ultimately possession. Your overloaded midfield should be able to dominate play in the middle of the park and therefore provide distribution to your strikers.

Ensure hold possession to control the game; advance down the middle of the pitch and keep play away from the wider areas.

4–2–3–1 (Wide): Adapt to anything

Borussia Dortmund & and modern classic 4-2-3-1 Wide

The first week of FIFA 20 has demonstrated that full-backs can get absolutely BURNED by wingers (thanks to the increased effectiveness of 1v1 dribbling).

READ MORE: All the Best Young Attacking Midfielders (CAM) to sign on FIFA 20 Career Mode

EA may correct this balance in future updates, but for now make the most of your wide players with the 4–2–3–1 (Wide) variation.

Things to consider: 

4-2-3-1 (Wide) works so well because it has the potential to transform into numerous other formations, depending on the Player Instructions you use. 

Get experimental – turn things into an unbalanced 4–3–3 to overload one side of the pitch, or lower your wingers’ Attacking Support to tighten things up to what is effectively a 4–4–1–1 if you want to see out a narrow lead. 

Things to avoid: 

Slow wingers. Anyone with a Pace stat below 83 isn’t worth considering here. The two wingers will be the focal point of your attacks – especially considering how you’re only playing one striker. A lethargic wide player with a low Stamina stat isn’t going to cut it here.

The game plan: 

Your two CDMs don’t need to remain disciplined all game; use one as a pivot by changing Defensive Behaviour to ‘Balanced’, Attacking Support to ‘Get Forward’ and Interceptions to ‘Aggressive’. 

They won’t last the full 90 minutes on these settings, but it’s well worth the penetrating runs that they provide from midfield. 

4-2-2-2 – The perfect counter-formation

PSG’s attacking quartet are perfect for a 4-2-2-2

The 4-2-2-2 is perhaps the most balanced formation you can use in FIFA 20 right now, especially in Ultimate Team.

READ MORE: All the best Wonderkid Strikers (ST & CF) to sign on FIFA 20 Career Mode

Having two defensive midfielders shields your back four but you’ve also, effectively, got four attacking players, and that can play havoc with your opponent’s defence

Things to consider:

With FIFA 20’s gameplay improvements and changes to ball physics, the counter-attack has become the most overpowered way to score goals, and this formation is the perfect for countering on your opposition. 

Things to avoid:

Despite the latest EA patch, FIFA players are still sharing their dismay with some skill moves and the balance between attack and defence. Avoid over-committing your full-backs and holding midfielders at the same time, as you risk being vulnerable to your opposition’s counter attack. 

Avoid using wingers that leave their defenders exposed, as until the next patch is implemented, players getting in behind your full-backs will be the main source of issues for your team.

The game plan:

Some gamers have found it tough to nail down the right tactics when using 4-2-2-2 formation. Your best bet is to use ‘constant pressure’ with ‘Depth 4’ or ‘Width 4’, with both CDMs staying back.

4-3-3 (Holding): The G.O.A.T.

Liverpool adapt the 4-3-3 Holding into a False 9

4-3-3 is one of the best formations out there and my a RealSport favourite to use; there’s a solid base in midfield and potential for counter attacks on the wing, with no nonsense at the back. But with five different variations on offer, what should you go for?

Things to consider: 

There’s a reason why this version of 4–3–3 comes up so much more than the others. ‘Defend’ is far too negative and ‘Attack’ is, well… far too attacking, leaving your team vulnerable to the counter attack.

The ‘False 9’ option (see pic) is always tempting, but EA’s gameplay designers still haven’t quite figured out how to effectively code this specialist role. 

READ MORE: How to score free kicks with the new mechanics on FIFA 20

‘Holding’ is the happy medium – the defensive midfielder remains disciplined, and you’re free to play in the knowledge that you won’t get caught out too often.

Things to avoid: 

Of all the formations on offer, 4-3-3 (Holding) is one of the few that works straight out of the box. It will be tempting to tweak, but you don’t actually need to here. 

The game plan: 

Under the Tactics tab, switch your team’s Defensive Style to ‘Drop Back’; whether you’re playing as Manchester City or Bolton, this will ensure you’ll be incredibly hard to break down, drawing your opponents in while leaving them susceptible to a lightning-fast counter.

5–2–1–2 – Embrace your inner defender

Inter Milan & Antonio Conte? A back five made in heaven.

Playing five at the back isn’t how it used to be in past editions; now, thanks to wing-backs actually playing like, you know, wing-backs, it’s probably one of the most entertaining and under-used formations to use in FIFA 20.

Things to consider: 

Select at least one striker who is both technically gifted and physically imposing. Playing with your back to goal is a necessity in a 5–2–1–2, so having a target man to play off allows both the striking partner and CAM to make deep runs.

Things to avoid: 

Wing-backs with ‘Low’ Attacking or Defensive work-rates, and those with Stamina ratings below 75. The success of this formation lies on the back of hard working wing-backs and the outstanding hold-up play of the striker.

The game plan: 

Both wing-backs need have ‘Join The Attack’ turned on, and ‘Width’ in the Tactics screen must be set to 7/10 or above, or risk things get too scrappy and crowded in the middle of the pitch.

READ MORE: FIFA 20 or PES 2020 – which game should you buy?


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Julian Sims

A 22-year-old History graduate and a life-long gamer.

I started at RealSport covering football and basketball content, though my passion for esports has compelled me to expand my knowledge and explore the diversity of the gaming community.

I currently lead the site's new category RealFeatures - a collection of pieces focusing on special events, noteworthy games and important figures within the world of esports.

 

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